Tomorrow morning (Friday, September 19, 2014) at 8:05 am, I'll be on 1170 KFAQ with Pat Campbell to discuss "improvements" to the Arkansas River, the broad prairie stream that flows through the western and southwestern parts of the city of Tulsa. The "improvements" would involve renovating the Zink Lake dam, built in 1980, and building three new dams to fill the river to its banks, for a total cost estimated at $240 million.
Earlier this month, friends and fans paid their final respects to comedian Joan Rivers. She was a groundbreaker for women in stand-up comedy, Johnny Carson's long-time backup host on the Tonight Show and then his competitor, a survivor of personal and financial tragedy who made an impressive comeback, and a staunch supporter of Israel's right to exist.
But Joan Rivers may be best known, particularly among the younger generation, for her frequent trips to the plastic surgeon. Rivers demolished her natural beauty in pursuit of an elusive ideal and spent a fortune only to end up looking harsh, alien, and artificial.
What drives an attractive woman to undergo one expensive and risky elective surgery after another? The obvious cause is insecurity, low self-esteem. She must have been convinced that she could only be attractive if she drastically altered her appearance, and evidently no one could convince her otherwise.
You could ask the same question about cities. Why would a beautiful city pursue risky and expensive plastic surgery in pursuit of artificial enhancements that ultimately fail to increase the city's charm and appeal?
Whether Hollywood star or Midwestern city, the drive for extreme surgical makeovers betrays a lack of self-confidence and a break with reality. Many a city tore down charming Victorian or Craftsman homes for brutalist public housing towers. After World War II, owners of Art Deco and Romanesque Revival commercial buildings were persuaded to cover their facades with metal cladding, in order to look "modern" and "up-to-date." Decades later, building owners are tearing off the cladding to put the unique elements of each building on view once again.
Our consumption-driven economy thrives on insecurity and discontent. An unscrupulous plastic surgeon could boost his bottom line by persuading potential patients that they're hideous without his help. Heavy construction companies, civil engineering firms, and bond advisors and attorneys can benefit financially by persuading voters that their city is too ugly to attract residents and visitors, but paying them hundreds of millions of dollars will make the city presentable -- at least until it's time for the next nine-figure tax package.
Conventional wisdom is conventional, and the conventional wisdom about the Arkansas River is that it's ugly and no one wants to be around it because it isn't filled with water from bank to bank. If we want to have development along the river, the conventional wisdom goes, we need to ensure that there's water in the river by building new low-water dams and fixing the one we already have. And we have to have development along the river if we want to attract the kinds of young hipsters that pick where they want to live and then look for a job.
We have water in the river. What seems to annoy people is that we also have sandbars and shelves of shale that are visible when the water level is low. If only we would spend hundreds of millions of dollars to build dams, we could raise the water level by a few feet and spare visitors the hideous sight of our sandbars. They they will like us and spend money here -- or so the deluded, insecure thinking goes.
But some of Tulsa's visitors really like our sandbars.
Wildlife in the river bed more interesting than a river full of water
On a frosty morning twenty-five years ago this January 21, I took my girlfriend to the Audubon Society's bald eagle watch. (Later that day I proposed to her.) At the time, we were amazed to realize that just 20 miles from downtown Tulsa you could watch our once-endangered national symbol in the wild. Earlier this year, in commemoration of that auspicious day, I took my family to the Audubon Society's bald eagle watch.
In 1989, the Audubon Society set up their eagle watch just below Keystone Dam. The eagles seemed to prefer the shallow waters below the dam to the deep and broad expanse of the lake above the dam.
In 2014, the Audubon Society set up their eagle watch in Helmerich Park, on the east bank of the river south of the 71st Street bridge. Over the years the eagles had extended their range downriver and into the City of Tulsa itself. We watched bald eagles come and go from a nest across the river on the west bank, notwithstanding the proximity of Jones Riverside Airport.
Click on the photos to enlarge.
We saw bald eagles, both white-headed adults and black-headed juveniles, soar above the river and dive down in search of a meal. And we saw hundreds of white pelicans.
As you can see from the photos, the pelicans preferred to roost in the shallows where the sandbars met the river or in shallow places where the sandbars were barely submerged.
The bald eagles liked the sandbars as well. We watched one mature bald eagle eating a fish on a sandbar, not far from a rivulet that crossed the sandbar to connect two branches of the main stream.
A gull tried to snatch the eagle's catch.
But the eagle waved him away.
A little while later, the adult was replaced by a juvenile, working on the same fish on the same sandbar.
This was the view of the Arkansas River from Helmerich Park on January 25, 2014, looking northwest toward the 71st Street bridge and Turkey Mountain. This is boring? This is ugly?
But instead of the shifting patterns of water and sand and the variety of wildlife, some Tulsans are adamant that we need a flat, monotonous expanse of water from shore to shore so that we can feel pretty.
What do we think "water in the river" will do for us?
When Tulsans enthuse about the impact of water in the river on tourism and economic development, they inevitably mention San Antonio's River Walk. The San Antonio River, as it bends through downtown, is about 40 feet wide -- about the width of a two-lane street. You can easily cross from one side to the other. You can easily spot someone you know on the other side and call out and wave. The Arkansas River through Tulsa ranges about 1000 to 1600 feet wide -- twenty-five to forty times wider.
In 2006, Canadian architect Bing Thom, hired by Tulsa's Warren family, proposed a way to create the River Walk feel: Excavate much of the west bank between 11th and 21st Streets, build an island with shopping and high-rise housing near to the east bank, with a little channel about the width of the San Antonio River separating it from the east bank. Price tag to the taxpayers would have been at least $600 million. Building housing in the river's floodway was unlikely to get Corps of Engineers approval. Excavating the west bank, once the site of oil refineries, might mean dredging up toxic materials now buried and settled.
If you want a street's-width River Walk, a better bet might be to follow OKC's lead and actually replace a street with a canal. Or tame one of our larger creeks and put development alongside. Combining the two ideas, the Elm Creek Master Drainage Plan includes a canal running down the middle of 6th Street east of Peoria. Many years ago, an architect proposed exposing the lower reach of buried Elm Creek, near 18th and Boston, for a creekside promenade.
Perhaps the water-in-the-river fanatics are thinking about the pleasures of watching the sun drop into the Pacific at nightfall. You really need at least 20 miles of open water to get that effect. That would mean excavating a lot more than the River West Festival Park. We'd have to flood Red Fork and turn Lookout Mountain into an island.
Maybe it's a reflecting pool that they want, so that motorists crossing the river on I-44 can spend some of their 15 seconds on the bridge looking north to see the skyline reflected in the river, just like that Ken Johnston painting. But even in that painting the water is rippled by the wind, as tends to happen with a broad, open expanse of water.
Do they think more dams on the river will bring about more recreation on the river? It's doubtful. Zink Lake has been around for over 30 years. The ferry boats and sailboats in mid-'70s "artist's conceptions" never materialized. Silt and sand don't let the water get too deep. We haven't even seen paddle boats on Zink Lake. Some number, probably not more than 100, participate in rowing on the river. I suspect more Tulsans had been on the river during the 1970s heyday of the Great Raft Race, prior to the completion of Zink Dam, than in the years since.
For a few years, Steve Smith ran airboat tours and then occasional guided canoe trips on the Arkansas River between Zink Dam and Keystone Dam. If I recall correctly, he tended to attract more out-of-town visitors who saw his brochure in the rack in the hotel lobby than locals. His descriptions of his tours, which you can find various places around the web, emphasize the variety you can see from the river -- wildlife, shoreline, little islands. But as far as I can find, he's no longer in that business.
Oklahoma City, Austin, and Wichita all have dammed, brimful rivers, but none of them have attracted vibrant riverfront development. The excitement in those cities is to be found in walkable neighborhoods of historic buildings away from the river.
We have a beautiful river. It needs some cleanup in places. The levees may need repair -- but that's a public safety and stormwater control matter, and we shouldn't let city leaders logroll elective cosmetic surgery in the same tax issue as a necessity. Let's stop listening to the hack plastic surgeons who want us to feel insecure enough to pay them hundreds of millions of dollars to "make us pretty." Let's appreciate the God-given beauty we already possess and the wildlife that enjoys it, in its changing variety.
The BatesLine archive of stories about the Arkansas River.
David Schuttler has some beautiful wintertime video of pelicans and herons from the stretch of the river west of Sand Springs:
John Eagleton writes to inform me that, after my appearance on KFAQ, all the "tax-and-spend hooligans" are angry with me. Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saeculi saeculorum. Amen.
Polls are now closed in Scotland, but it will be several hours until all the votes are counted in the referendum to decide whether its 307-year-old membership in the United Kingdom will be dissolved in favor of independence. The question on the ballot is simple: "Should Scotland be an independent country?"
Paul Monies, a Scotsman and British subject who reports on energy news for the Oklahoman, offers a summary of the arguments for and against and offers his own opinion and prediction:
Scotland's vote Thursday on a referendum for independence has been cast as a choice between the head and the heart.
The heart says the nation of 5.3 million people is strong enough and confident enough to dissolve the 307-year-old union it has with England and the rest of the United Kingdom. The head says the economic risks are too great for a small country in the global economy....
The No campaign, which calls itself "Better Together," says breaking up a political and monetary union will be messy, and the Yes campaign hasn't offered enough concrete details on how it will happen. Pensions, splitting up the U.K.'s national debt and how an independent Scotland will continue to use the pound as its currency are among the issues to be negotiated if Scots vote Yes.
Results will be tabulated and reported by each of Scotland's 32 local government areas. I don't think individual polling place results will be reported. According to Oliver O'Brien's map of estimated declaration times, first results are expected at 2 a.m. BST (8 p.m. Tulsa time) from Perth & Kinross, Moray, North Lanarkshire, East Lothian, the Western Isles, and the Orkneys. The big cities will declare a result at 5 a.m. BST.
You can listen to BBC Radio 4's coverage of the Scottish referendum results live online starting at 4 pm Thursday Tulsa time.
#indyref is the Twitter hashtag.
Peter Hanraty, vice president of Oklahoma's constitutional convention and mining safety activist, was an immigrant from Scotland.
The Telegraph has a series of photos of Scottish referendum demonstrations and campaign activities:
Former Labour PM Gordon Brown campaigns for maintaining the union. He looks more than a bit like the late comic actor Tony Hancock. "Does Magna Carta mean nothing to you? Did she die in vain?"
Market Force Information polled over 5,000 consumers for a study of convenience store preferences. Tulsa-based QuikTrip had the highest "Composite Loyalty Score" at 79%, followed closely at 74% by Wawa, a 645-store chain founded 50 years ago in the Pennsylvania township of the same name and dominant in the mid-Atlantic states. QuikTrip has over 700 stores in and around Tulsa, Wichita, Kansas City, Omaha, Des Moines, St. Louis, Dallas/Fort Worth, Phoenix, and from Atlanta to Charlotte along the I-85 corridor.
QuikTrip had the highest ratings for friendly service, fast service, cleanliness (inside, outside, and restrooms), and high quality beverage station, with over two-thirds of respondents agreeing that those descriptions fit QuikTrip stores. QT also topped the "inviting atmosphere" category, but only with 51%.
Wawa finished second or third to QuikTrip in those categories, but topped QT in high quality coffee (Wawa 54%, QT 37%), high quality food (Wawa 42%, QuikTrip in 4th at 26%), and available amenities (Wawa 36%, QuikTrip in 5th at 22%).
In the food selection category, Sheetz, a 437-store chain in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, and North Carolina, finished first with 54%, followed by Wawa at 49% and QT at 36%. Sheetz offers burgers, wings, wraps, pizza, burritos, and subs through a touchscreen ordering system.
Wawa Inc. started as an iron foundry in 1803, which launched a dairy in 1902, which opened small food markets to sell its products in 1964. Two years ago Wawa began expanding into the Orlando and Tampa metro areas in Florida, and newer, bigger, fuel-oriented stores are replacing older non-fuel locations in eastern Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia. Wawa is known for its wide variety of coffees and its built-to-order hoagie counter. As with QuikTrip, you expect Wawa stores to be clean and orderly. A couple of favorite features:
(1) To doctor your coffee, Wawa has quart cartons of its dairy's milk and half-and-half in a chilled well set into the coffee counter.
(2) For customers on low-carb diets, Wawa offers lidded snack cups filled with cheese cubes and pepperoni slices or carrot and celery sticks -- healthier alternatives to donut hole snack cups.
As far as I can tell, QT, Wawa, and Sheetz are not in any overlapping markets.
So congratulations to hometown QuikTrip, and we hope QT's spirit of innovation will spur them on to further improvements -- especially in the coffee department.
MORE: Sheetz, Wawa, QuickCheck (138 stores in New York and New Jersey), and QuikTrip are the top four in Facebook "likes" per store.
NOTE: The Kickstarter campaign to bring the Urban Tulsa Weekly archive back online has just three more days to run. We need $875 more in pledges to move forward. If you'd like to see this irreplaceable archive of a period of Tulsa history accessible online again, please make a pledge.
UPDATE: 2014/09/17: Raised a bunch yesterday. Now only $560 more in pledges needed to make this happen. Please make a pledge today.
Urban Tulsa Weekly ceased publication in November 2013 after over 20 years as Tulsa's alternative newspaper. A few months later its web presence, UrbanTulsa.com, went offline, and with it went seven years of Tulsa's history. In its final incarnation, the site held the newspaper's stories from 2006 to 2013.
Urban Tulsa Weekly's writers covered indie music, art, and theater, local eateries and nightspots, sports, business, urban development, and local politics. The paper was often the first to report on new stars, new bands, and new trends. Without the stories and perspectives found in UTW, Tulsa's historical record is incomplete.
Since the website has gone offline, we've gone to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine looking for UTW stories that have become timely again, but we've found to our dismay that many of them were missed by the Internet Archive's webcrawlers. A group of former UTW writers is banding together to restore this piece of Tulsa history to the internet, and we need your help.
While I have all of the columns and stories that I submitted for publication (and retained the rights to republish them -- eventually I'll get them all online here), the same is not true of many other great writers and editors who contributed valuable insights on the state of Tulsa, Oklahoma -- its politics, sports, music, arts, and entertainment.
The good news is that, with the publisher's permission (which we have), the hosting provider can quickly put the UrbanTulsa.com archive back online and keep it online in a frozen, archive-only, ad-free state -- but there's a price. This Kickstarter will cover the initial cost of restoring the archive and keeping it online for three months.
During that initial period, we hope to get a complete scan from the Internet Archive, and we will be working on affordable ways to maintain the UrbanTulsa.com archive online in the long run. Funds above our initial goal will pay for additional months of hosting. With sufficient funding, access, and permission, we'd like to get the entire run of the paper online in some form.
Because we are not permitted to sell ads to support the site, we need your financial support to make this happen. Help restore and preserve this significant record of Tulsa's recent history with your pledge today.
Lately, for the eight-year-old's bedtime story, I have been reading the book Peace Child by Don Richardson. In 1962, Richardson, his wife Carol, and their infant son went with Regions Beyond Missionary Union to the Sawi, a people who live in the sago palm swamps along the Kronkel River in what was then Netherlands New Guinea, now the Indonesian half of that island.
The story is told in an engaging and suspenseful manner, with the end of each chapter leaving my son anxious to learn what happens in the next. The book begins with stories of Sawi intrigue that took place prior to the Richardsons' arrival, illustrating the value the culture held for treachery -- "fattening with friendship for the slaughter." You might invite an enemy to your home, feed him and treat him with honor for weeks or months before springing the trap on your trusting victim. You have him over for dinner... and then have him for dinner.
Richardson then takes us across the Pacific to the frozen tundra of Canada's Prairie Bible Institute, where he and his wife met and where they heard the call to take the gospel to the isolated inland tribes of Netherlands New Guinea. From this point on the story follows the Richardsons as they arrive in New Guinea, meet neighboring tribes, survey the Sawi territory, make initial contact, build a home, and begin learning the language and customs of the Sawi.
I had been helping my daughter and her friend through a tough passage of Latin, one that made extensive use of indirect discourse with accusative subjects and present, perfect, and future infinitives in active and passive voice. We finished, and I went to read the next chapter of Peace Child to my son. This passage on the grammar of the Sawi language seemed apropos, so I brought the book and my son back to where the girls were studying and read it to all of them. You think you have it tough with six Latin tenses?
Speaking Sawi was proving far more than an exercise in stringing simple terms together. Often a single word turned out to be only a stem to which a seemingly limitless number of suffixes or chains of suffixes could be attached.
Each verb, for example, has nineteen tenses in its indicative mood alone. So far I had isolated the functions of only one-third of those nineteen tenses. Also, each of the nineteen tenses occurred in both a first-person and a non-first-person form, making a total of thirty-eight verb endings to choose from every time I wanted to make a simple indicative statement in Sawi.
Another group of verb endings were slowly emerging as the subjunctive mood of the language, a system for expressing "if," "could have," "would have," and "should have." Further, I was getting glimmerings of an imperative mood, a brace of suffixes which say "let me," "let us," "let him," as well as give commands in the second person.
Apparently concrete verb stems became etymological phantoms which could assume any one of fifteen different shapes even before one began extending them with suffixes. One form of the stem proclaimed the subject as singular, another as plural. Still othres indicated action aimed at either a singular or plural object. Other forms signified operations which were either customary, progressive, repeated, reciprocal, experimental, conclusive, partial, excessive or obstructed.
In Sawi, every sequence has to be in correct time order with no steps omitted. The grammar is correspondingly set up to handle long action sequences in a smooth, flowing manner.
Every statement has to be classified as either firsthand or secondhand information. Sawi won't let you take credit for someone else's thoughts. Nor will it let you avoid responsibility for your own utterances. It abhors indistinctness. It tolerates no nonsense. It would resist a translation of Alice in Wonderland like oil resists water. Surgically precise, transistorized description is its goal.
Sometimes I felt like my brain circuits would get shorted before I mastered Sawi. And yet learning it was a great adventure. I often felt like a mathematician must feel as he tackles problems and breaks through into new formulas which work like magic.
Sawi is so enchantingly specific in its vocabulary. In English you open your eyes, your heart, a door, a tin can or someone's understanding, all with one humdrum verb "open." But in Sawi you fagadon your eyes, anahagkon your heart, tagavon a door, tarifan a tin can, and dargamon a listener's understanding.
If someone had shown me a statement of Sawi grammar and asked me to guess the type of persons who developed it, I would have guessed a race of pedantic-philosopher types obsessed with fastidious concern for handling masses of detail efficiently.
And yet, looking deeper, I would have guessed they were also poets -- an entire subclass of Sawi verbs is devoted to personifying inanimate objects as speaking! If a flower has a pleasant scent, it is saying fok! fok! to your nostrils. Is it also beautiful? It is saying ga! ga! to your eyes. When a star twinkles it is whispering sevair! sevair! If your eyes twinkle they are calling si! si! If mud squishes around your feet, it is murmuring sos! sos! In the Sawi universe, not only man, but all things are communicating.
Climbing up a notched pole, I entered the manhouse and sat down on the grass mat among the men of Haenam and Yohwi. They didn't look like the philosopher-poets their language suggested they were. I felt I was sitting in the presence of a mystery. How did a culture addicted to barbarism develop such a refined, logical and efficient language? Perhaps the swift thought and keen reflexes needed to survive in a violent context served to produce linguistic efficiency also.
Or was their language an artifact pointing back to an earlier age of more complex aspirations? I had already noticed that the Sawi had a deep, almost compulsive esteem for their ancestors. Perhaps there was more than just a sentimental basis for it.
"A race of pedantic-philosopher types" brings to mind Tolkien's design of the languages of Middle Earth or the scholars who constructed languages like Esperanto and Volapük.
In the same chapter, Richardson feels he has enough of the language to attempt to explain the story of Jesus to a group of Sawi men. He is shocked to find that they see Judas as the hero of the story and Jesus as his dupe -- the ultimate example of fattening with friendship for the slaughter. The realization causes Richardson to feel hopeless that he could find a way to communicate the gospel to this culture. But he prays and God provides in a surprising way, and that's the rest of the story.
Notwithstanding the cannibalistic treachery of the Sawi, Richardson describes with admiration their language and the efficiency of their way of life, using the flora and fauna on hand to sustain themselves.
When progressives hear conservatives condemning multiculturalism, they wrongly assume that conservatives wish to eradicate other cultures, other languages, other folk customs and force conformity to bland Anglo-Saxon suburbia. In fact, conservative Christians may be doing more than anyone else to preserve dying languages and musical traditions, through the work of groups like Wycliffe Bible Translators. The practice of the evangelical mission community is to translate the gospel into the "heart language" of every people group and, as they come to faith in Christ, to express their faith in their own music.
Richardson's account of the Sawi way of life allows us to draw an important distinction. Multiculturalism insists that we suspend all value judgment of another culture, and so we must not condemn the cannibalistic treachery of the Sawi -- live and let live. A Bible-believing Christian would say instead that there are aspects of a culture which are morally neutral, aspects which are positive, and aspects which are -- let's not mince words -- evil, aspects which disfigure the imago Dei borne by every human of every tribe, tongue, and nation. While every culture in this fallen world has negative elements, some cultures have a built-in engine for reform and improvement, while others may only shed negative elements under outside encouragement or pressure, and so we ought to reject a false moral equivalence between cultures.
Don Richardson sells his own books, books on related topics, and his own artwork depicting the cultures of New Guinea on his website.
In 2012, fifty years after his arrival, Don Richardson and his three sons returned to the Sawi lands:
The New Testament has been translated into Sawi, but only three Papuan languages have a complete translation of the Bible. World Team, the successor agency to Regions Beyond, has five current translation and literacy projects that need your support.
The Summer Institute of Linguistics' Ethnologue has a map showing the incredible linguistic diversity of eastern Indonesian Papua (New Guinea). Here is the Ethnologue's entry on the Sawi language, which has an estimated 3,500 speakers.
An index of online resources for the Sawi language.
Here is a collection of audiovisual Bible lessons in the Sawi language.
Volume 14 (1986) of the journal Irian: Bulletin of Irian Jaya has a paper describing kinship and marriage customs among the Sawi.
A prime example of the failure of multiculturalism: Officials turning a blind eye to the exploitation of young girls in Rotherham, England, for over a decade out of fear of being thought racist or Islamophobic. James Delingpole writes:
The impression given was that to be against multiculturalism is like being against chicken tikka masala, or bhangra, or arts festivals or smiley brown skinned people or fun generally.
But multiculturalism isn't and never was a handy synonym for "multiethnic". And at last, it seems, the majority of British people have twigged.
Multiculturalism is the philosophy that says the grooming, trafficking and mass rape of underage white girls by Muslim gangs is not as bad as being thought Islamophobic.
Multiculturalism is the philosophy that says it's better to let a little African girl get tortured to death by her relatives than it is to be thought culturally insensitive or judgemental.
Take a moment to remember University of Tulsa and Memorial High School graduate Jayesh Shah, who worked on the 103rd floor of the north tower for Cantor Fitzgerald, and to pray for his family, who deeply miss their brother, son, husband, and father. This 2002 story from the Houston Chronicle tells about Jay's family and their desperate search through the streets of New York for hopeful news that never came.
From news.com.au: 30 pictures of 9/11 that show you why you should never forget.
A year after the attacks, an exhibit of photos showing the aftermath, recovery efforts, and the indomitable spirit of New Yorkers toured the nation and is still online: Here Is New York.
The ABC miniseries The Path to 9/11 told the story of the events, beginning with the 1993 World Trade Center attack, that led to the 9/11/2001 attack. Because it put certain American politicians in a bad light, it has not been rebroadcast in the US, and the original version is hard to find, but not impossible for the tech savvy. You can watch a documentary about the political pressure that led to the censorship of the mini-series, "Blocking the Path to 9/11," on the Internet Archive.
Some personal recollections of the day:
Presidential spokesman Ari Fleischer offers his account of 9/11 with President Bush aboard Air Force One, and the threat that the president's plane might itself be compromised by terrorists.
In 2009, HotAir blogger Allahpundit tweeted his memories of the day. He lived in downtown Manhattan, not far from the World Trade Center.
Ron Coleman was in midtown Manhattan when the planes hit. He writes of the confusion of the day and his journey, by foot and ferry, back to his home in New Jersey.
Rusty Weiss says, "9/11 saved my life," shocking him out of complacency as a responsibility-shirking young man.
Robert Spencer lists ten things we should have done since 9/11 to defeat Islamism, but we haven't because of political correctness. Number 4 rings a bell:
It is remarkable that thirteen years after 9/11, not a single mosque or Islamic school in the U.S. has any organized program to teach Muslims why the al-Qaeda/Islamic State understanding of Islam is wrong and should be rejected. Yet they ostensibly reject this view of Islam, so why don't such programs exist? Even more remarkable than their absence is the fact that no government or law enforcement authorities are calling upon Muslims to implement them.
Such programs must be instituted, and made transparent and open to inspection, so as to ensure their sincerity and thoroughness.
Tulsans know what happens when a Muslim does speak out and explain that Islamists aren't good Muslims.
Despite the outcry over the passage of SB 906 in the Oklahoma State Senate, a bill that would have subscribed the Reddest State in the Nation to a plan to undermine the constitutional method of electing presidents, advocates of the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact haven't given up on putting Oklahoma's scalp on their trophy wall.
Earlier this year, an outcry from grassroots activists and Republican party leaders stopped SB 906 from advancing any further, notwithstanding the money NPV spent flying legislators to tropical junkets. A number of senators who voted in favor recanted their support.
The bill died in a State House committee, but it wasn't killed. Ignoring pleas from activists, Gov. Mary Fallin refused to take a stand on the issue.
The out-of-state liberals pushing for NPV now appear to have adopted a new strategy: Meet with conservative activists and, if they can't persuade the activists to change their minds, at least confuse them enough to mute their criticism the next time the bill comes before the legislature.
Earlier this week I received word from some local conservative volunteers that former California Assemblyman and State Senator Ray Haynes is meeting with activists and asking for introductions to others. The twice-divorced Haynes, now a paid consultant for National Popular Vote, met with them at a local chain restaurant. They said he seemed quite sincere and even prayed with them at the beginning of their meeting. Haynes had a conservative voting record in California, which gives him some credibility with conservatives that someone like Saul Anuzis didn't have. NPV backers were smart to hire someone like him, even though internet and newspaper database searches turn up questions about the circumstances under which his marriages ended and the timeliness of child support payments.
Haynes was a candidate for Congress this year in California's 36th District. He finished third in the all-party primary, behind a Democrat and another Republican. He loaned his campaign $14,761 and only raised $3,150 from contributors. The contributions allowed his campaign to repay Haynes $1065.50.
Haynes's top contributor, maxing out at $2,600, was John Koza, the Chairman of National Popular Vote. Koza, a generous political donor and an elector for Al Gore in 2000, normally gives his money to the likes of Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Barbara Boxer, Al Franken, and Bernie Sanders, the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ($32,400 this cycle), the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee ($30,800 this cycle), and "super PACs" supporting Democrats (e.g., $50,000 to the Senate Majority PAC). About a month before his contribution to Haynes, Koza gave $5000 to EMILY's List, the pro-abortion PAC.
In fact, an OpenSecrets.org search seems to show that Haynes is the only Republican federal candidate in over 20 years that Koza has supported with a donation.
Anyone cooperating with NPV or its lobbyists is no friend of the Constitution. The NPV compact takes a backdoor approach to changing the Constitutional method of electing our president.
For the full rundown on what's wrong with National Popular Vote, see my article from February, and follow the links to read critiques of NPV from the OCPA, the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, and others, and learn more about the left-wingers who head up the national effort to ram this idea through. I won't repeat all those points, but I will repeat one argument and expand upon it:
Under the electoral college system, state boundaries serve as firewalls limiting the effect of voter fraud. Right now, it doesn't matter how many cemetery residents vote in Chicago, at worst it means the Democrats win Illinois by a wider margin. NPV would demolish the firewalls between the states, allowing fraudulent votes in liberal states with weak election integrity measures (no voter ID, all-electronic voting) to cancel legitimate votes in conservative states like Oklahoma with strong election integrity measures like voter ID and paper ballots.
Many years ago, Haynes favored an idea that would have created more firewalls against voter fraud: Awarding one of California's electoral votes to the winner of each congressional district, and two to the statewide winner, following the practice of Maine and Nebraska, rather than winner-take-all. That plan would give more of a voice to conservative sections of states dominated by a few big, left-wing cities. (This plan has its own flaws, given the tendency of politicians to gerrymander congressional district boundaries.)
But the NPV plan Haynes now backs would allow a candidate to run up the score in a handful of high-population left-leaning metro areas with the assistance of clueless or possibly corrupt local election officials. Why Haynes would do a 180 on this issue is an interesting question.
Fair warning: Anyone who assists NPV or its lobbyists in making connections so they can sell this diabolical plan to conservative activists is going on a BatesLine-maintained list, and it's not a good one. Naivete is no longer an excuse.
Michael Ramirez, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner for editorial cartooning and senior editor at Investor's Business Daily, will give a free public lecture on Thursday, September 18, 2014, at 7 p.m., at Oral Roberts University in Zoppelt Auditiorium. Ramirez's lecture, "Editorial Cartooning, Journalism and a Citizen's Responsibility," is presented by three ORU departments: History, Humanities and Government; Communication, Arts and Media; English and Modern Languages.
Ramirez has been honored four times (2006, 2008, 2011, and 2014) as editorial cartoonist of the year by the National Cartoonists Society.
At noon on Friday, BatesLine is proud to host a small luncheon with Michael Ramirez. Seats are extremely limited; cost is dutch-treat. If you're interested, please email me using mailbox 'blog' at this domain.
This coming weekend, September 6 and 7, 2014, is the opening weekend of the Helmerich Center for American Research, a unit of the City of Tulsa's Gilcrease Museum. The new facility is adjacent to the museum on Gilcrease Museum Road.
A weekend full of free events is planned, including Native American and Latin American dancers, the Cherokee National Youth Choir, red dirt/Americana band The 66. There will be lectures on art and history, art-making, kite-flying, and map-reading activities for children. Food trucks will be on hand and the museum restaurant will be open. It would be easy to spend the entire weekend out there.
Legendary guitarist, singer, picker and grinner Roy Clark, fiddler Jana Jae, and the Tulsa Playboys will perform together on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. on the main stage. The event is free and unticketed; seating is first come, first served.
The Red Dirt Rangers will close out the weekend Sunday evening at 4 p.m.
Because of limited parking at Gilcrease, visitors are encouraged to park in designated lots downtown and take a five-minute shuttle ride to the museum.
MORE: Here's an earlier -- much earlier -- performance of Orange Blossom Special with Roy Clark and Tulsa Playboys bandleader Shelby Eicher. Eicher shows up about 7:40 into the video.
Our family was among those huddled under a tent as the cold drizzle continued into mid-afternoon. We were delighted to listen to the Cherokee National Choir sing songs like "Take the Name of Jesus with You," "Battle Hymn of the Republic," and "I'll Fly Away" in the language of Sequoyah. Around 2:05, a few minutes after the choir left the stage, the Tulsa Playboys began to set up. They were in place, but there was some inexplicable delay. A sound check began after the show was scheduled to start, and it was quickly apparent that the sound man had no earthly idea what he was doing.
As the rhythm section of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, rhythm guitarist Eldon Shamblin and drummer Smokey Dacus, along with Al Stricklin on piano, defined the beat that drove dancers across the southwestern U. S. in the 1930s from the band's home base at Tulsa's Cain's Ballroom. Dacus was on the Texas Playboys' first 1935 recording session and stayed with the band until World War II; Shamblin joined the band in 1937 and continued to work with Bob Wills off and on through the '40s and '50s. The two reunited with the rest of the early-day Playboys for a 1970 session at Merle Haggard's housewarming and Bob Wills's final recording session in December 1973, and then as the Original Texas Playboys until Stricklin's passing in 1986.
Here are Eldon and Smokey at Cain's Ballroom sometime in the early '90s, telling stories of those early days -- playing pranks, dealing with Bob Wills, Leon McAuliffe as a gawky teenager who could "fall over a broomstraw in a 60-acre field," the vast repertoire that they could play on demand as Bob read the mood of the crowd, the massive crowds they drew to Cain's (3,000 a night), playing the funerals of fans on Sunday, their only day off, and babies sleeping on the bandstand while their parents danced. Medicine Park, Crystal City, and Elwood Park (six miles south of Oklahoma City) get a mention.
Early in the conversation, Eldon said, "When you played here on Saturday night, for example, you'd look out in the crowd and there'd be people from Arkansas City, Oklahoma City... we never had a concentration of customers from Tulsa.... We always had full houses, but they weren't all from Tulsa. They were from surrounding territories."